A humane being

I went to the grocery store yesterday and was selecting eggs. This is one of the most difficult tasks for me, next to purchasing light bulbs. I want to buy the best type for me, my family, the environment and, in the case of the eggs, the animals most of all.

But there are so many options. Organic. Cage free. Free range. Humanely raised. Non GMO. Yes! I want all of those. However, I never seem to find the whole package. I’m not even sure I understand the differences in the terms. But yesterday, I found a brand that made me smile.

It’s called Blue Sky Family Farms. They have this printed on the inside of the carton lid:

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That’s exactly what I want. Not only food that nourishes my body, but also my soul. I can’t eat food that I know isn’t good for the animal or for the planet. Why would I want to? That food literally becomes a part of me. I want to be made of the best stuff on Earth. It’s why I love the farmer’s market. I like chatting with the local people who actually grow the food. They have a stronger commitment to growing food that’s clean, nourishing and beautiful than factory farmers.

I love reading Michael Pollan’s books on food. His book “Food Rules” is great. The takeaway is this: Eat real food. Mostly plants. Not too much. Sounds simple enough. And it is. It’s just not easy.

I talked to a man once who told me that he used to drive a produce truck from northern California to southern California. They’d load up the truck with green, unripe strawberries and toss in a time-released “ripener.” It was basically a little grenade of chemicals that would start to release its contents once it was opened and slowly fill the back of the truck. Once they arrived in Southern California, the berries were red.

Gag.

I understand. We have a lot of people on this planet to feed. But not like that. That’s not good for anyone. Yes, GMO, pesticide filled and chemically altered food is sustaining us, but for how long?

I want to know that the hen who laid the eggs that I ate for breakfast gets to take a dust bath and forage for insects in an open field, like she was intended. This is as important to me as knowing that the items I buy aren’t made in sweatshops in unsafe conditions with unfair labor practices or by children. I’m willing to pay more to know I’m getting a quality product.

I have always been careful about what I eat. I got cancer anyway. I don’t know why, but I believe that it’s the toxic load that I’ve been exposed to for 43 years. One factor is that I grew up in the Ohio River Valley which is known for trapping toxic air. The cancer rates in that area of the country have been under investigation for decades. I stopped living there when I was 18 but the toxicity can remain with you for a long time.

It makes me sad that as a population, we’re polluting ourselves to death. Eating too much of the wrong stuff. Leading sedentary lives. Developing new syndromes because of all the electronics we use.

I’ve always been a late adopter of technology. I still like using a pencil and paper calendar for my appointments. I like reading bona fide books. I liked when we put our memories in photo albums.

It’s not that I’m a Luddite, I just like simple things. I like to slow down. Take my time. Sure, Google is great, but I miss going to the Carnegie Public Library to do research by using the card catalog and finding books to read on wooden tables with glass tops. I liked being part of the summer reading contest when I had to fill out the card in the front pocket of each book with my name on it, and I could see everyone who had it before I. There’s a quaintness there that I miss.

I think I must be an old soul.

Everything is so fast these days: internet speeds, information distribution, the pace of life.

I have some advice for the world that was once given to me. In 2002, my mother-in-law, Karen, died of pancreatic cancer. She had had it for two years before she passed. One weekend, we were visiting her at Michael’s grandmother’s house in Allison Park, PA. The kids were little (4&1). I was rushing around trying to get things together for our drive back to Akron, OH. We got the kids in the car and were ready to go. She stood in the sliding glass doorway, and I said good bye and gave her a hug. She said, “Slow down, and think about what you’re doing.” That was the last time I saw her conscious and the last words she ever spoke to me.

So that’s my advice for the world. Slow down, and think about what you’re doing.

 

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